11 ways to Fake Work like everyone else in your office

minibar's picture
Rank: Senior Orangutan | 423

mod note: this was originally posted on 7/11/12
Everyone's on vacation. You've pretty much done minimal work the last week because you were celebrating your independence. Let's face it, you've probably checked out since memorial day weekend and now begins the long stretch towards labor day weekend and the end of the lazy summer. With most colleagues on vacation, it's pretty difficult to get much done during the summer - but you're stuck behind a desk anyway. So how do you keep busy and stay underneath the radar, while doing as little as possible?

I'm by no means a pro, but here's a list of tricks I've picked up and have seen others execute masterfully along the way. These tricks are almost as powerful as Ben Bernanke's eyebrows, so please, use wisely or else you'll ruin it for the rest us.

  • Always have a few spreadsheets up
    This one can be tweaked, depending on your job, but the key here is to always look like to you're plugging away at some document. You could be working on a personal budget spreadsheet or a comprehensive list of local bars and happy hour list. It doesn't matter, just keep your desktop covered with things that look like work
  • Take notes
    Take notes furiously. Keep a notebook open and glance up at your spreadsheets and then jot down a few fake notes. Everyone will surely think, "man, they're writing up a storm, better not disturb, I'll come back later"
  • Block off some time on your calendar
    This is one I use year round. I don't like Monday morning meetings and I certainly don't like a meeting on a Friday after 2pm - so I block off some time in outlook. Bingo Bango, no one tries to book those slots. Put a few of those on your calendar - use sparingly and in combination with the next tip.
  • Take a walk and carry a prop
    If your're gonna step away (during aforementioned blocked off timeslots) to take a lap around the floor or the building, for that matter, take a notebook with you. Everyone will think you're on your way to take notes somewhere. I also like to print random things at the printer fartherest away from my desk - not because I hate the environment, but because I dont have a printer at home. Taking a long walk to the printer and staring really hard at what I just printed in the copy room makes me feel busy.
  • Take a walk and leave a prop
    When combined with the previous tip, this is a sure-fire way to look like you're really on the move. Leave some food out - a half eaten apple or something next to a spare notebook with a strategically placed pen/highlighter. No one will beleive that you'll be gone for an hour if you leave a half eaten granola bar at your desk next to notes that you were obviously busy reviewing.
  • Walk with a purpose
    If you're walking fast (with notebook in hand) it must mean you really need to be somewhere and have no time to dilly dally around. You've got places to go and people to see. For a dramatic flare, look pissed off.
  • Make your desk look like staples threw up on it
    I like to have a mix of random notes, notebooks, and slide decks strewn across my desk. Expert tip: Have some the slide decks open and stick some post-its on it so it looks like you read through it and have some items to follow up on when you have the "bandwidth".
  • Have a Penske file on hand
    Forgive me for the Seinfeld reference, but George really nailed this one. Have a vague project that no one really knows about. Talk to anyone, anywhere, all the time about it. "the Pensky file... can't wait to sink my teeth into that." You'll never actually work because you're so busy telling everyone how busy you are.
  • E-mails, lots of E-mails
    You can send and receive e-mails to yourself. You can schedule your emails to be sent later. The sound of you clammering away at those emails is a sure sign that you really chipping away at that to-do list. Schedule an email to be sent late in the day so it really makes you seem like you're burning the midnight oil. Or schedule it to send before the work day - early bird gets the worm, right?
  • Headsets - these are now attached to you
    Keep your headset on at all times. Makes it look like you're on back to back calls all day. Combine this with your laps around the floor and those fake meetings you created in outlook and no one's gonna mess with you because you're so busy taking calls and notes - a regular walls street mover and/or shaker
  • Do some actual work..but not too much
    Use this as a last resort. When all else fails, do a little work. But don't spread yourself too thin! Easy there, tiger. Don't do today what can wait until tomorrow.

We have about 6 more weeks of summer, so what are your suggestions for looking busy during the slow times.

Comments (82)

Jul 11, 2012
Comment
Jul 11, 2012
Jul 11, 2012
Jul 11, 2012
Jul 11, 2012
Comment
    • 1
Jul 11, 2012
Comment

Still not sure if I want to spend the next 30+ years grinding away in corporate finance and the WSO dream chase or look to have enough passive income to live simply and work minimally.

Jul 11, 2012
Jul 11, 2012
Jul 11, 2012
Jul 11, 2012
Jul 11, 2012
Jul 11, 2012
Comment

WSO's COO (Chief Operating Orangutan) | My Linkedin

Jul 11, 2012
Comment

The Knicks are back?

Jul 11, 2012
Jul 11, 2012
Comment

I am wise because I know that I know nothing -Socrates

Jul 11, 2012
Comment

I am going to call my kids Ctrl, Alt and Delete. That way if something is going wrong I can beat them all at once.

Jul 11, 2012
Jul 11, 2012
Jul 11, 2012
Comment
Jul 11, 2012
Jul 11, 2012
Jul 12, 2012
Jul 12, 2012
Jul 12, 2012
Jul 12, 2012
Comment

If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses - Henry Ford

Jul 12, 2012
Comment

Always in a rush, but never late

Jul 12, 2012
Jul 12, 2012
Jul 14, 2012
Jul 14, 2012
Jul 14, 2012
Jul 14, 2012
Jul 14, 2012
Jul 15, 2012
Jul 16, 2012
Jul 16, 2012
Comment
Jul 16, 2012
Jul 17, 2012
Comment

No contract means I have all the power. They want me, but they can't have me. - Don Draper

Sep 15, 2012
Sep 16, 2012
Sep 16, 2012
Dec 30, 2012
Comment

If the glove don't fit, you must acquit!

Dec 31, 2012
Comment

I would agree with you, but then we'd both be wrong.

Dec 31, 2012
Comment

PE is the new black.

Dec 31, 2012
Dec 31, 2012
Comment

No contract means I have all the power. They want me, but they can't have me. - Don Draper

Jan 1, 2013
Mar 9, 2013
Mar 9, 2013
Mar 13, 2013
Jan 31, 2014
Feb 6, 2014
  • Anonymous Monkey
  •  Feb 12, 2016